Gadgets, Gadgets, Gadgets!

A review of the newest and coolest technological gadgets has been a tradition at Internet Librarian for several years, and it has become one of its most popular sessions. This year’s session was no exception. Even though it was the last session of the day, the room was totally packed, with few empty seats. The presenters were Barbara Fullerton, Manager, Library Relations, 10K Wizard; Sabrini Pacifici, Editor and Publisher, and BeSpacific; and Aaron Schmidt, Thomas Ford Memorial Library,

Here is a list of the gadgets they discussed. Some of them are really trends, not gadgets, and many of the gadgets are either still on the drawing boards or not available in the U.S. (Links to all these gadgets will be posted on the Information Today presentations page shortly after the conference.)

Infinite drive. A 25 in 1 card reader and miniature hard drive that plugs into a USB port. Available now for $61.
• IBM’s MASTOR service is providing speech-to-speech real-time translation for the U.S. Military. A number of ruggedized laptops have been supplied for use in Iraq.
Cell phone jammers will prevent phones surrounding you up to 50 feet away from operating. These devices are illegal in the U.S., but are available in the U.K. and Japan. They are expensive, costing over $1,000.
AimuletLAbamboo Audio Device. A handheld audio device that runs on an LED and requires no battery. It reads light transmissions and sends the sound to your ear.
Glow in the dark duck for the bath, pond, or pool, has a water-activated LED that provides color-changing light. Available for $12.95
USB Data Link Transfer Cables transfer data between two PCs by just plugging the ends of the cable into the USB ports of each. Files can be dragged and dropped from one PC to another. Windows versions only, $12.95.
• The PrintDreams handheld printer will print full size on anything. It runs on a USB port and will be available in 2007 for about $200.
• The Flowbee hair cutting machine is for busy librarians that don’t have time to visit the barber shop or hair salon and allows you to give your self a do-it-yourself haircut. It will be available next year for about $60.
• Many new models of Palm Treo Smartphones are available. Some of them incorporate a speakerphone, camera, video, and voice recorder with the basic cell phone. They run on Windows or the Palm OS.
LCD scrolling badge. A 52-character scrolling display runs on a USB port and is available only in Japan for about $40. It was suggested that Information Today should buy these and issue them to conference attendees instead of badges!
• An omnidirectional smart wheelchair is controlled by a camera with a 360 degree field of vision. It detects potential hazards and decelerates or stops automatically. Currently available only in Japan, it will be a boon to disabled individuals everywhere.
• How much would a traveling LCD projector cost? Weighing 4 pounds or less, with a minimum of 2,000 lumens and native XGA resolution, it should cost about $2,000.
• Microsoft’s Zune will be the competition to Apple’s highly successful iPod. Providing video and wireless capability, 30 gigabytes of storage, it should be cost about $250 when it comes on to the market.
Wireless stereo speakers allow you to move your PC’s speakers around the room. They are available for $26.99.
• A record turntable with a USB cable is available from for $119. Now you can convert all those old long-playing records to MP3 files.
6th or 7th generation iPods will be wireless and will be available “soon”.
• A new Kurzweil reader allows you to hold a camera over printed media, take a picture, and then hear it read to you. The audio file can be stored and transferred to a PC or Braille-aware PDA. Cost: $3,495.
Silver Rag paper for producing high-quality photo prints on a PC on acid-free paper is available at photo dealers at a price of $52 for 25 sheets. The prints have no glare and deep, rich colors.
Mop slippers make floor spills disappear. Just put them on your feet and shuffle over the floor. They are machine-safe to wash. One size fits all. They are a bargain at $9.95.
Long lasting batteries from Uniross have four times the life of conventional batteries and can be recharged 500 times. At $28 per 4-pack and the charger, they repay their cost many times over.
Red Razr V3m is a popular Motorola phone with a bright red case. Sprint and Motorola make donations to The Global Fund for each one of these purchased.
• The CellStik plugs into a cell phone’s battery port and downloads all the contacts, which can then be transferred to a new phone. It saves re-entering all the contacts when a new phone is purchased. The cost is $39.95, and it works with all brands of phones.
• A phone available only in Korea at present allows recording of TV programs.
• Add fragrance to your work surroundings with the Arona Fragrance Oil Burner with is powered through a USB port and costs only $19.
• The MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies showcases new technology for soldiers in the field. Visit their Web site and find out about free tours.
• If you use your laptop in cold environments, keep your hands and head warm with heated gloves and a hat powered through your PC’s USB port. The cost is only $22.95.
• In the future, laptops may not have any hard drives. Instead, the data will be stored on a 35 gB flash memory. So far, the cost of $1,500 is prohibitive, but it will come down. The main hazard with these is the risk of loss of all your data if you lose the memory stick.
• The Sling Media Slingbox Pro streams live TV shows to any web-connected PC or windows mobile device. Now you can watch live TV when you are away from home as long as you are in the range of a Wi-Fi hot spot. The cost is $200, and there are no monthly fees.
• For $750, you can have a designer iPod jacket that stores your iPod or any other MP3 player in an inside player and allows you to program and control it from the jacket sleeve without opening the jacket.
• A 32-1 card reader/writer with a USB 3-port hub allows data to be transferred directly from one card to another without a PC. Available only in Hong Kong, the cost is about $28.
• The Electrolux screen fridge allows you to find out what’s in your refrigerator by looking at pictures on a display. It can be connected to broadband and TV and has access to the Internet, a phone, and MP3 player. With remote access, you can see what is in the refrigerator while you are at the supermarket! The price is $9,000.
• The Nokia Open cell phone opens like a fan and uses an as yet non-existent flexible touch screen to display the data.

This session, like its predecessors more than lived up to its advance billing and provided a fascinating and entertaining look at what we can expect to see in the future of technological gadgets.

Don Hawkins
IL2006 Blog Coordinator and Columnist, Information Today

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